Famous for more than just fashion and architecture, Milan has become a hub for foodies. // © 2016 iStock
Feature image (above): TownHouse Galleria guests have views of the shopping venues and pedestrian walkways within the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. // © 2016 iStock
The locals of Milan have long proved that they know about more than just fashion and architecture — they also know how to feed the foodie craze. Now, the Italian city is ready to show off both its luxury and its culinary prowess, beginning in the kitchens of top chefs, within historic marketplaces and among the vines of its popular wine region.
In Italy, the feasting begins with lunch. Chef Viviana Varese serves rustic, reimagined delights at the Michelin-starred Alice Ristorante, located in Milan’s Eatly Smeraldo megastore. The restaurant’s decor is a quirky blend of modern glass and concrete, with sculpted ceramics atop wood tables. The lunch menu changes seasonally, featuring food that celebrates both the art and flavor of the meal.
For dinner, look to the creations of Davide Oldani, who favors simplicity in his restaurant’s style and within his ingredient lists. The Michelin-starred chef serves Italian cuisine dubbed “cucina pop,” which combines innovative elements with traditional flavor. The menu at his wildly popular Ristorante D’O, located just outside Milan, is primarily sourced from local farmers. While his oft-photographed saffron risotto is both visually stunning and delicious, it is the exquisitely simple caramelized onion appetizer topped with Grana Padano cheese ice cream that is most likely to linger in one’s memory long after the return home. Clients who are trying not to break the bank will also be fond of the venue’s reasonable prices. Chef Oldani first opened the eatery in 2003, and was awarded with a gold Ambrogino award by the city of Milan in 2008.
The luxurious Townhouse Galleria, originally billed as the “Seven Stars” Galleria, puts clients in the heart of the bustling city center — it’s actually housed within Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Both the Duomo di Milano cathedral and La Scala Theater are short walks from the hotel. Galleria View rooms and suites feature soundproof windows or doors that open above the busy Galleria floor and feature views of the celebrated mosaic art panels tucked beneath the glass arches that cover the shopping and pedestrian thoroughfare below. Guests of the hotel have complimentary access to Highline Galleria, a catwalk built in 2015 across the monument’s domed roof that allows for unprecedented views of both the city and the spires of the nearby cathedral. For a dining experience within the hotel, clients can venture to the on-site Ottagono Oyster Bar. The restaurant serves several fresh and chilled seafood menu items in addition to grilled oysters, chowders, shellfish, lobster sandwiches and caviar rolls. The eatery offers a beautiful view of the Galleria, as well.
About an hour’s drive east from Milan, at the foot of the Italian Alps, lies the Franciacorta wine region. The area is best known for its sparkling wine, which is rapidly gaining international attention. The local cellars are a delight to visit, ranging from midsize production houses to family-run operations, where visitors are likely to see modern bottling equipment alongside displays of antique farm implements carefully preserved through the generations. Clients can sample wine and enjoy the slower pace of the area’s rural villages and vineyards. Commissionable day trips are available from tour operator Musement, which offers a free booking platform for travel agents.